SARVA BHAUMA: People are going on pilgrimages to India—
HANSADUTTA: A waste of time. Let them chant Hare Krishna. Why spend so much money? First chant Hare Krishna. Then, if Krishna takes you on pilgrimage, you go. We never went on any pilgrimage with Prabhupada. And Prabhupada told me, “I never went. I thought it was boring. I’d rather hear what my Guru Maharaja had to say.” It’s another waste of time.
Originally there was some purpose, something to be gained by pilgrimage, because at pilgrimage sites there was some pure devotee, a holy man, and you could get some benefit. But now the pilgrimages are filled up with thieves and rogues and rascals and cheaters. They’re just tourist attractions where people go for sense gratification.
We don’t go on pilgrimage. We go on harer nama sankirtan [chanting the Holy Name in public], or we go to the temple, chant Hare Krishna, or we go to read Bhagavad-gita. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. Everything is right here. Krishna has come to you. What more do you want? Why looking some other place? He’s right here. He’s as near as your tongue chanting Hare Krishna. You are there. Krishna is there. There is no need at all. And if Krishna wants, you will go on pilgrimage. You will go. No need… don’t bother about it. The pilgrimage has come to you in the form of Bhagavad-gita, the Holy Name, the devotees, the prasadam. It’s coming to you. Krishna is so kind. Isn’t it so?
But we have all these sentimental and traditional, pseudo-spiritual ideas: we should go to pilgrimage, we should get some holy water, and so many things. These are all useless in this day and age. They have no… We don’t have time, and we don’t have money, and the holy place is full of sinful people, so you just become contaminated. You go there, and you become contaminated. Actually it’s a fact.
We have been to these holy places. Prabhupada took us, and he told us, when he took us in 1971 to Allahabad at the Kumbha Mela and in 1977… I asked Prabhupada, “Is it true that if you take a bath you get liberation?” He said, “Yes, but we’re already liberated. We didn’t come for that. We came here to preach to these foolish people. We came just to preach. We didn’t come here for liberation or any pious credits. We came here to preach Krishna consciousness.” And we did. We would go every morning on harer nama sankirtan. People were astonished.
Right? You go to Hardwar, Rishikesh. People are just milling around in the market, shopping, going to the restaurants, gossiping, talking nonsense. Everywhere it’s the same, because the holy men are no longer in the holy place. That’s a fact. What makes the place holy? Holy man. What makes a place rich? A rich man. Isn’t it? What makes a place… they say, “Oh, it’s a very wealthy area.” What does it mean? It means people who are wealthy live there. So a holy place means where holy people stay. Such holy people are no longer there. In by-gone ages, the rishis and the sages would stay in these places and do penance and austerity, but that time is gone.
SARVA BHAUMA: In addition to the question… actually, I didn’t finish my question, Maharaja.
SARVA BHAUMA: What is the rationale, Maharaja, I mean… in India… this is just out of curiosity, why is it the deities are not being revealed? Or people, I mean, are keeping closed the deities?
HANSADUTTA: To make money. If they show the deities all the time, who will give money? Do you follow? To make money. That is the business. It has become a business. In India, if you want to make a business, open a temple and show the deity. Hire a pujari [priest]. Every five minutes he’ll pull the curtain—wssh, wssh, wssh, wssh, wssh. [laughter] Then people throw money. Yes. It’s unfortunate, but it’s happening. We also wondered, “Why are they doing like that?” We asked Prabhupada, and he said, “This is a business. Temple opening is a business.” Because people… since time immemorial, Indian people have the Vedic culture, so they have some regard for deity. It’s being taken advantage of. Just like they have the sentiment for the sannyasi [renounced monk]. If you go to any holy places, so many babajis in saffron dress are smoking bidis and begging for some money, and they live that way. It’s a good way to live. Sort of like an Indian version of a hippie.
Prabhupada taught us to come out of this sentimental, romanticized, mystified concept of religion. We have to see it for what it is. It is just a vestige of a by-gone era. A vestige. Do you know what a vestige is? Something that was at one time a functional contribution to the society and is now just a show, something left over from a long time ago. It has no spiritual function any longer. Mostly the temples in India are empty, abandoned, unkept. India has become… has lost its hold on Vedic culture, because they were ruled over by the Muslims and then the British and now television and computers and McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken and whatnot. It’s very sad, but this is a fact.
Everything is there in Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and even if one cannot read or write, then he can chant. Everything is there in the name of Krishna: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And it is not Indian—it is Vedic. It is transcendental. Therefore the whole world has taken it, accepted it. Chinese, Russians, Americans, Germans, Jews, Christians… everywhere people are chanting the Holy Name of Krishna. That is the point: to chant the Holy Name of Krishna. That’s all. Other things will come naturally. Gradually, everything will come. The essence of the whole thing is the Holy Name of Krishna. Just as in reading and writing “A B C D E F G…” is the essential thing—to know the alphabet. From that, the whole thing expands into unlimited. So from the Holy Name of Krishna, our spiritual life can expand without limit. There is no limit. You like books? We have books. We have philosophy. We have logic. We have reason and argument, science, music, art, food—everything. But unless the Holy Name of Krishna is there as the foundation, it will not grow. Hare Krishna. Thank you.